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This in­ter­view se­ries fo­cuses on the peo­ple in Santa Fe’s real-es­tate in­dus­try. Melissa Pip­pin-Car­son is a bro­ker with KellerWil­liams and is the 2017 pres­i­dent of the Santa Fe As­so­ci­a­tion of Real­tors. She wrote a monthly col­umn, “Pip’s Tips,” from 2006 to 2010 and she and her hus­band, Roger Car­son, have penned “Spouses Sell­ing Houses” since then.

What has be­ing pres­i­dent meant to you? It’s been very mean­ing­ful. I’ve en­joyed it tremen­dously and I have tried to do a good job, to do things the mem­ber­ship needs. We im­ple­mented a pay­ment plan at the be­gin­ning of the year. Most peo­ple think real-es­tate bro­kers make so much money, but the na­tional av­er­age is $39,000. Peo­ple come here to re­tire and they think they can do this and make a lot of money, but this is a tough pro­fes­sion. It’s not like the old days of meet­ing some­body who wants to buy a house at the bar.

When I started, there was floor time, the idea that peo­ple will see a real-es­tate sign and call you and you’ll have a sale. That doesn’t re­ally hap­pen any­more, ei­ther. So that idea of get­ting a li­cense and mak­ing all this­money is like a dream. If you’re for­tu­nate enough to get a list­ing, you have to price it right to sell, then you have to get through the con­tract and the ne­go­ti­a­tions and if you’re a new bro­ker, you have to split with your qual­i­fy­ing bro­ker and there are desk fees and ad­ver­tis­ing ex­penses and what you’re left with af­ter pay­ing Un­cle Sam is some­times not worth the three months you’ve been work­ing on it. Where were you born and raised? I was born in Palm Springs, Cal­i­for­nia, and I lived a long time in Hous­ton and in Michi­gan. My grand­fa­ther’s fam­ily set­tled around Al­bion, Michi­gan, in the lat­ter part of the 19th cen­tury. We moved around so much, but that farm is pretty much my child­hood home. What did you want to do when you were a kid? It’s so corny, but I wanted to be an ac­tress. I grew up watch­ing old black-and-white movies and I loved all the old ac­tors like Cary Grant, Kather­ine Hep­burn, Myrna Loy. Ev­ery­one seemed so el­e­gant and dap­per and I wanted to be just like that. When I was a teenager, I used to do skits for my friends and I wanted to make ev­ery­one laugh. Then, I thought Satur­day Night Live­would be so much fun. But, I never made it to Hol­ly­wood or New York. I still try to do the oc­ca­sional com­mu­nity the­ater and I do love be­ing on stage. The last one I did was the Sante Fe Melo­drama, in 2012, I think. It takes a lot of time, but I love the­ater. I love be­ing on stage. How long have you been in Santa Fe? I moved here in 1992. I had been in Colorado for ski­ing but I’d never been in New Mex­ico. I’ve lived a lot of dif­fer­ent places, but I re­ally love Santa Fe. What was your first job here? I was a bar­tender at the Palace Restau­rant. I worked for Lino Per­tusini. I met Roger there. I was play­ing hard to get, but one night I was walk­ing down Palace Av­enue with a friend of mine and Roger sawme and he came over and he swooped me up in his arms and went running down the side­walk. It was a hoot. He got my at­ten­tion. We were mar­ried in 1999 at the Loretto Chapel. We have two daugh­ters, Far­leigh and Zoe, and he has a son from a pre­vi­ous marriage. What did you do af­ter bar­tend­ing? We had a pedi­cab and tour busi­ness here for a while. We had two pedi­cabs, and we cre­ated a 2-mile tour and we’d talk about the his­tory of Santa Fe. But that was so sea­sonal. Then one day when we were build­ing our house and I was preg­nantwith Zoë, I just woke up and I said, I’m get­tingmy real-es­tate li­cense. What ex­po­sure to it had you had? None. Roger was the cater­ing di­rec­tor at Las Cam­panas and he would talk about it oc­ca­sion­ally, but, you know, di­vine in­spi­ra­tion or what­ever, I just woke up and had that clar­ity. I took my classes and got my li­cense in Novem­ber 2001. I started with French & French Fine Prop­er­ties, work­ing in their Za­farano of­fice.

Did Pat andMichael French take you un­der their wings?

They did, and Alan Ball was the head of the new agent divi­sion, but I did my own thing, too. You have to, be­cause no mat­ter what some­body tells you, it’s not al­ways the per­fect fit. You have to for­mu­late your own thing around suc­cess. I do not be­lieve in cold-call­ing peo­ple. When I was a new agent, my schtick was ad­ver­tis­ing in the Santa Fe Re­porter with an ad calledThe Pip of theWeek. I would go hit up FSBOs [For Sale by Owner peo­ple], knock on the door, and tell them I’d ad­ver­tise their prop­erty and I had an ex­clu­sive 30-day list­ing con­tract with them.

You’re start­ing off with peo­ple who have an an­tag­o­nism for the bro­ker pro­cess.

Yeah, but they will pay a real-es­tate bro­ker 3 per­cent if we bring the buyer. Peo­ple think they can get more money, but all of the na­tional av­er­ages show that a real-es­tate bro­ker will sell the house for about 10 per­cent more than if you try to do it your­self. And there’s so much li­a­bil­ity, and you’re invit­ing peo­ple into your home.

That’s an­other thing: in my pres­i­dency, I have been a big pro­po­nent of self-de­fense classes for Real­tors and our af­fil­i­ates. We’ve done sev­eral free classes.

What do you do in your spare time? Are you work­ing all the time?

It can be con­stant, but I’ve started to turnmy phone off at 8:00. I do yoga. We like tak­ing the kids to the beach in Encini­tas, north of San Diego, where we stay in a Fifties-style mo­tel and we can walk to the beach. We also love to ski, right here in Santa Fe. Andwe have two dogs, a col­lie and an English bull­dog. And Roger will tell you that I’ma sports jock. OK, what’s your team? I like Den­ver, but I also en­joy ten­nis. You andRoger work as a Real­tor team. Do you have dif­fer­ent roles?

I do the ma­jor­ity of the admin and pa­per­work, and Roger does more of the mar­ket­ing. We both show houses, and a hus­band-and-wife team is a great­way to do that. Tell us about the MLS. The num­ber of mul­ti­ple list­ing ser­vices across the na­tion went from 2,500 to about 800 in one decade. For me, the im­por­tance of what we do is in the in­for­ma­tion that we have, and it has to be ac­cu­rate and re­li­able and it has to be ours. We shouldn’t sell it up­stream to some­one else. I’m a big pro­po­nent of main­tain­ing our MLS to Santa Fe. There are peo­ple who want to join the state MLS, but I think that’s a step in thewrong di­rec­tion. I think it’s im­por­tant to keep Santa Fe strong. Do you like con­tem­po­rary style in our new homes? I do. I like what’s called “soft con­tem­po­rary.” We can keep the down­town clas­sic and old and in­ter­est­ing, but for other ar­eas I think Santa Fe should em­brace a South­west­ern mod­ernism. We have a great op­por­tu­nity on St. Michael’s Drive to build and cre­ate some re­ally cool places for modern liv­ing in­cor­po­rat­ing re­tail and putting park­ing un­der­neath, be­cause most mil­len­ni­als don’t even drive. We need more diver­sity in our hous­ing, be­cause 75 per­cent of our work­ers don’t even live in Santa Fe. We want peo­ple here, we want to be sus­tain­able.

The in­cen­tives the city has in place for St. Michael’s are so awe­some, but let’s get it go­ing. It needs to hap­pen!


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